January 18, 2005

Grant helps fuel energy conservation efforts

by Kathryn Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Energy conservation efforts at Southern Illinois University Carbondale have gotten a boost from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, which has agreed to pay as much as $250,000 toward the $750,000 price tag for upgrading indoor lighting in 18 campus buildings.

"This grant is a tremendous boost to SIUC because it permits us to move forward with a project that will provide an enormous energy cost-savings over the long term," said Bret B. Dougherty, coordinator of marketing and public information for SIUC's Plant and Service Operations.

"The money we save (on this project because of the grant) may allow us to retrofit some of our other buildings."

SIUC officials estimate this round of upgrades will reduce the university's electricity demand by about 373 kilowatts annually. Work began Nov. 1 and will continue through next October, with SIUC receiving the foundation funds after completing the project.

Upgraded fixtures will accept smaller fluorescent lamps, or bulbs, that can produce more light at a lower cost. Fixtures in the 18 buildings now take between 34- and 40-watt lamps; after the upgrade, they will use 32-watt lamps.

"The majority of the savings is not necessarily from the wattage difference but more from the fact that there are fewer lamps," said Walter D. Bogard, a physical plant mechanical engineering specialist who is overseeing the changeover.

"In my office we had four (of the old lamps) and replaced them with two (of the new ones) and got virtually the equivalent light."

Buildings slated for retrofitting are: Davies Hall, Doyle Hall, the Public Policy Institute, Faner Hall, the Library Storage Building on McLafferty Road, Lindegren Hall, Life Sciences II, Illinois Fisheries and Aquaculture Center, the Museum Storage Building (also on McLafferty), Northwest Annex A, Parkinson Laboratory, Pulliam Hall, the Glove Factory, University Press, Wham Education Building, Wheeler Hall, Woody Hall and the (Woody) Admissions Reception Center.

Work is under way in Faner Hall, but which buildings come next is up for grabs.

"We're playing that by ear based on how much work I can get done," Bogard said.

Before the electricians can make the switch, Bogard must take light readings, check to see if they match professional standards set for lighting and calculate how many new lamps will be needed for each fixture in a particular location in a particular building to produce that level of light.

"My job will be to stay ahead of the electricians," he said, adding that he aimed to keep the crew continuously busy.

Retrofitting will take place at night to minimize inconvenience.

"It's a real disruption to productivity if you have electricians working above your desk," Bogard said.

Several buildings on campus, including the Agriculture Building, the Communications Building and Life Sciences III, already have the upgraded fixtures as part of an ongoing $4.2 million, four-year energy savings project funded internally.

"The pilot building for this type of energy conservation project was Neckers," Bogard said. "We did that about two years ago and saw such significant savings we decided to do this with other campus buildings,

"In Communications, we had 5,600 (old-style lamps). We put in 3.900 (new ones) and have an estimated annual savings of just over $11,000 per year in that building alone.

"Our electric bill on campus is traditionally over $6 million per year. If you can cut that by even 10 percent, you're doing pretty darn good."

Pursuing alternative funding sources, such as energy efficiency projects, is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.